New Delhi: Attempts to rescue the 15 miners miners trapped in a 370-foot-deep illegal coal mine in Ksan area of Lumthari village since December 13 have been turning futile, mainly due to lack of high-power pumps and other equipment.
For almost a week now, rescue workers have been waiting for powerful pumps to drain out the water that keeps flooding the illegal mine in the East Jaintia Hills.
NDRF assistant commandant S K Singh on Monday said the current water level in the mine shaft is about 70 feet.
According to a News 18 report, Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills wrote to the state government asking for 10 high-power pumps a week ago, but no action has been taken yet.
Also, a report by Scroll says that SK Shastri, the commandant of the battalion leading the operation, had also written to the Centre asking for equipment, which is yet to be answered.
The rescue operations have been temporarily suspended with the authorities saying that the exercise will resume once more powerful pumps are made available.
“We have temporarily suspended pumping of water out of the mine as the exercise did not yield any positive result. The water level has not subsided,” Dopth said.
About 20 miners on December 13 entered the quarry owned by Krip Chullet. After reaching the bottom of the pit, they entered horizontal manholes, often termed as ‘rat-holes’, as each just about fits one person.
Five persons were able to climb out of the flooded mine, leaving the others behind.
About 100 personnel of the national and state disaster response forces, along with the police, are waiting for the water to recede about 30 feet as divers can do their job once the water level subsides up to that level, Superintendent of Police, Sylvester Nongtynger, said.
According to locals, one of the diggers could have accidentally punctured the walls of the cave following which the river water gushed into it on December 13.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had written to Coal India seeking transportation of their high-powered pumps to the mine to help drain the water out.
Various exercises were also conducted by different government departments in line with the recommendation of ace mining mishap expert, Jaswant Singh Gill, who had visited the site last week.
The state government had on December 22 announced Rs 1 lakh interim relief to the family members of each of the 15 miners.
Meanwhile, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging that the Centre has not provided the required equipment for the rescue of the miners.
Referring to PM Modi launching India’s longest railroad bridge in Assam on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “15 miners have been struggling for air in a flooded coal mine for two weeks. Meanwhile, PM struts about on Bogibeel Bridge posing for cameras. His government refuses to organise high pressure pumps for the rescue. PM please save the miners.”
The National Green Tribunal has banned unscientific mining of coal using small horizontal holes along the coal seams since 2014.
Transportation of already extracted coal is intermittently allowed for exporting the mineral to Assam and Bangladesh.
The NGT had first allowed transportation in 2015 and recently the Supreme Court had allowed transportation of already extracted coal till January 31.